by Howard Glass
Even if you do not watch television and movies, you probably know how Christians are usually portrayed on the screen. Some well-known films have used awful examples of believers. Script writers eagerly use religious characters when they want to create a shallow, self-serving, bigoted, hypocritical persona.
This ploy used to bother me. Now I see it for what it is and even take comfort in it. Jesus taught that such would be our portion in this world (John 17:14). Building disdain for Christians is part of Satan's work.
Sports coaches, once they know who the opposing team's key players are, will do what they can to minimize the effectiveness of those players. They focus on the athletes who most threaten their success. And military commanders engaged in battle destroy the enemy strong points where possible. If we are the enemy's target, we must be doing something right!
Satan knows he cannot destroy the goodness and the appeal of Jesus' teachings. The pure Christian faith is above reproach and always fits in where humanity is at its best. The substance of Christ's teachings is followed by those who want to be virtuous even if they don't profess faith.
The world rarely says that there is something wrong with the faith. Their opportunities to bash are mostly found among Christians who, while perhaps saved, are yet prone to sin, or whose idea of modeling Christ is twisted somehow. Though stereotyping is considered backward and illiberal, the world nods with approval when it is used on Christians.
When we promote the Gospel well, we threaten Satan's success. He will do anything to make us look bad. His strategy of using those who shape culture to demonize God's followers is effective. Satan works to convince people that God is a myth and that heaven is a sham. I fear it works best among the young, who are more vulnerable to celebrity hype.
Don't be distracted by glib talk of "spiritual warfare," mysteriously fought in the unseen. Prayer? Yes! But our primary battlefield is routine life. Each of us must do our best to project Christ as he actually is. This is true spiritual warfare. The Holy Spirit can use steady, confident, determined, unambiguous love for God and people as a weapon.
Most people want to believe that a godly lifestyle is possible. A hunger for the harmony and peace of Eden waits quietly in the deep shelter of humanity's psyche, listening for an "all clear" signal (1 Thes. 4:16, Romans 8:19).
Life-savvy folks understand that pursuing goodness cannot mean one becomes perfect, and they will respond with respect when we humbly imitate Christ. Genuine godly behavior speaks for itself, any time or any place.
So, love the world as Jesus did; roll with the enemy's punches. The kingdom of God, though plagued by trouble and setback through the centuries, continues its march. God's promise is repeated in many ways through the scriptures. Surely He longs for our final redemption! That day will come when what is worthy gets it due (Isaiah 58:8; Rev. 21:27); God's enemies will tremble under rocks (Rev 6: 15-16). We are on the winning side. We can afford to wait.